I received an e-mail from someone who wondered why some don't find workshops useful. The person also pondered about having the commercial community (vendors) presenting sessions or workshops at library conferences on digitization. Below is my response.
I think the problems with the workshops are:
- Some workshops are too structured and not flexible enough to address specific participant concerns.
- People take the wrong workshops. I remember an old story of someone taking a workshop where the focus was on how to digitize photos, but his project was to digitize newspapers. What he learned didn't automatically translate into his situation.
- People take workshops that are convenient for them to attend and may not have the budget to attend a workshop elsewhere that may be more on target with their needs. (Not everyone can afford to go to the School for Scanning.)
- Some concepts are difficult to teach in a workshop and are best learned doing hands-on.
- Some people just learn better outside of the workshop environment.
As for associations getting the commercial community to share its experiences, the associations might be open to the commercial community approaching them to do conference sessions OR workshops at their conferences. Or perhaps even demos. But I don't think the associations will approach the commercial community, rather I think the commercial community needs to contact the associations with firm ideas of what they could do (teach) to help association members.
You're correct, the associations will want the commercial community to not try to sell product, but to educate. Unfortunately, if one company goes into sales-mode at the wrong time, it will ruin it for everyone.
It would be wonderful if a commercial entity did conference sessions (and articles) along with their clients AND talked honestly about their projects. I know from the discussion lists, as well as e-mails and blog comments, that things are not always rosy. Companies need to understand that talking honestly about the lessons they -- or their clients -- learn during a project would be valuable lessons for the rest of us. We've grown to like transparency.
I'm prepping now for a digitization workshop at Computers in Libraries, so this topic is weighing heavy on my mind.
Technorati tags: CIL2007, Digitization